Our CEO, Leon Ward, who has been a part of both the young carer and LGBTQIA+ communities, shares his experience with money growing up. He also gives an insight into the challenges faced by LGBTQIA+ young people and how MyBnk can help support them through financial education.

As someone who has been a young carer and is a part of the LGBTQIA+ community, how would you say this has impacted your experience with money?

“I think the first thing to say is that being a) young and b) a young carer were the things that impacted my experience with money more than being gay. Although there are some experiences that LGBTQIA+ people go through that means that their interaction with money is perhaps different to their heterosexual counterparts.

From a young carers point of view, I had to support and, in some instances, take over my grandma’s finances. I was a teenager and so had next to no idea what I was doing and wasn’t sure of where to look for help and guidance. I also didn’t have that many people to turn to because it’s quite a unique situation when you’re 14-15 years old and you’re starting to help to look after your grandma’s money.

I had to help navigate quite complex financial services and products, from switching her utility bills to choosing the correct house insurance. It was a steep and quick learning curve”.

 What would you say are some of the main challenges faced by LGBTQIA+ young people?

“Firstly, there is still extensive discrimination faced by people in the community. Although we live in a time where the law enshrines protections for LGBTQIA+ community, in reality there’s still lots of discrimination every day. In fact, I have actually won two court cases of hate crime towards me and my then partner!

People often fail to realise that you never stop coming out!  For instance, when I started at MyBnk, talking about my male partner this meant I had to ‘come out’ to the whole organisation.

We know that almost a quarter of homeless young people also belong to the LGBTQIA+ community. There are two potential explainers for this, one is the family feel unable to accept that person and removes them from the family unit. But there are also some people in the community who turn their back on their families if they feel uncomfortable or unsafe.

There is added complexity in that some young people are borderline or ‘hidden homeless’. For example, some young people are sofa surfing or they’re staying with multiple friends. This means they have no fixed abode, they’ve got no full-time address, or their full-time address is at their parent’s house typically, but they live in multiple houses throughout and they’re just bouncing around. This means you have a whole community of hidden homeless young people that are not really considered in the statistics.

All of this is on top of the ‘standard’ challenges that young people face.”

Like you said, As many as 24% of young people who are homeless are LGBTQIA+ in the UK. How can organisations like MyBnk help these young people?

“I think MyBnk is uniquely placed because money is something we interact with from a very early age every single day. MyBnk has 16 years of experience working with young people, usually young people facing some sort of disadvantage. And so, we’re absolutely ready to step in to help any young person, irrespective of their sexuality. We support all young people to get better interacting with and managing their money and equip them with the information, tools and skills to navigate the complex financial landscape.

We would love to have a conversation with any organisations working with LGBTQIA+ young people. We have a whole range of financial education programmes available for 7-25 year olds across the country, most of which are fully funded”.

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